Over the next three weeks our church is looking at the DNA of The Foundry. Each week we will talk through one of the key aspects of who we are: our Vision, Mission, and Strategy. In the first week of this series we are talking through “our vision”, which is “To see lives, neighborhoods, the city, and the world transformed by Jesus.
Watching my son, Micah, play with legos is fantastic. He is three years old. So thankfully all of his legos are the large “DUPLO” legos. These connecting blocks are one of only a few things that hold his attention for a decent amount of time. When we hear that sound of him dumping the bucket of legos on the floor, we know that he is busy constructing a “robot”, “airplane”, “restaurant”, or whatever his little creative mind thinks of. As a three year old (who is also incredibly imaginative and creative) he NEVER follows the little 3x5 card telling him how to construct the intended object. Instead he has an idea in his head, and he builds it. He version of “vision” or “plan” is 100% on his imagination (which is incredible to watch, and another conversation for another time).
Could you image an organization that had this approach? There is no plan or direction other than what pops in our brain. This would be catastrophic to customer relationships, business growth, business partner relations, accounting, just to name a few things. Rather it’s important for organizations have a vision. The vision is the written form of “what are we going for”. It provides the direction. For example, in lego building the vision is says “we are building a tower”. It doesn’t answer questions of “what kind of tower” or “what is our strategy for building a tower”. In fact multiple companies can have the same vision, but look extremely different because their strategy is different.
If you were to research Fortune’s or Forbes’ top companies to work for, over the years you’ll see many of the same names pop up. These organizations in large part have very clear vision, mission, and strategy (although they may use different words to describe the same thing). They understand who they are uniquely and what they want to accomplish. One of the organizations that is always on the top ten and is number one in 2017 is Google. Google’s vision is simple, "to provide access to the world’s information in one click”. This is the direction that guides every decision. In essence they are saying, “let’s create a way to synthesize all the information in the world and make it accessible to anyone in the the world in an easy way”. From my perspective they achieve this. I don’t think a day goes by without me searching for some information on Google.
Church should be the same. We should have a vision statement that guides all decisions we make. At The Foundry our vision statement is this, "To see lives, neighborhoods, the city, and the world transformed by Jesus”. This is our 3x5 lego card, helping us know “what we are building”. But what does it look like for these four areas to be transformed?
What does it look like for lives to be transformed? Lives are transformed when we are freed from the weight of sin. When our burdens and stresses are cast aside. Transformation is finding community and common ground with people that our world or society says shouldn’t find common ground with. It’s stepping out in faith to be vulnerable and honest with others. It’s serving everyone. Transformation is putting others before yourself and sharing the hope that you have found. It’s being quick to listen and slow to speak and become angry. It’s laying down your life for someone else. Transformation is restoring lives and forgiving transgressions. And it’s living on mission each and every day in the context you are in. So what is it that you need to do for you life to be transformed? And how can you help transform the lives of others?
How about transformation of neighborhoods. Baltimore is a city of Neighborhoods. Over 250 neighborhoods exist in Baltimore. Each with their own unique attribute and quirks. But the neighborhoods are where we go home each night. They are where we spend our weekends. They are the epicenter of where we live, play, and rest. Transforming neighborhoods starts with transforming lives. And when individuals are on mission where they live they impact a neighborhood. When we are intentional with the people we run into at the local coffee shop or restaurant, by knowing names, taking interest in them, and finding common ground, we build relationships that can ultimately lead to a neighborhood transformed. Transforming neighborhoods means finding community in a densely populated part of a city that is overran with loneliness. Transformation brings beautification and hope to homes, gardens, lots, and streets. Neighborhood transformation digs deep roots. How can you help transform your neighborhood?
As I mentioned before, Baltimore is a city of Neighborhoods. So for our city to be transformed it starts neighborhood by neighborhood. It looks like groups of people gathering in respective neighborhoods. And leads to those groups joining with other nearby groups to impact their region of the city. City transformation happens when we move beyond segregation of all kinds. (Check out this Map the New York Times put out, where you can see the segregation in Baltimore). When we get our of our bubbles and under stand someone different than us. City transformation happens when the poor and the rich rub shoulders and truly care about one another. Transformation in our city can happen when our lives are transformed, and we begin to see our job as a place to share about our transformation in order to impact others. City transformation happens when we step outside our own comforts to care about individuals in are city dealing with homelessness, drug addiction, sex trafficking, and/or loneliness. City transformation happens when we can step in and help reduce murder rates, corruption, and division present in our city. What role will you play in transforming Baltimore?
How does a church in Baltimore, Maryland reach the world? There are nearly 7.4 billion people in the world. First we want to be a people that are marked by generosity. One of the ways we do this is by supporting individuals in other cities in the US and other countries in the world to help provide funding for them to transform the particular city they call home. Second we open our eyes. We send teams of people to see other areas of the world. This helps us gain a global perspective while reminding ourselves to be on mission where we are. Lastly we are in a part of the country and in a particular city for a reason. There are major brands/corporations/hospitals in our city. We have incredible non-profits that are inspiring individuals in different cities to copy models. The reach of one life transformed can have is huge in this perspective. Ask yourself, which of these areas allows you to help transform the world?
If you are in our community, my hope is that your life has been transformed. My second hope is that you see the incredible potential you have to help transform our neighborhoods, city, and world. Allow God to use you and join (or continue to join) us as we aim to transform lives, neighborhoods, Baltimore, and the world through Jesus.